Animal reproduction is necessary for the survival of a species. In the animal kingdom, there are innumerable ways that species reproduce. Asexual reproduction produces genetically identical organisms (clones), whereas in sexual reproduction, the genetic material of two individuals combines to produce offspring that are genetically different from their parents.
Generally, the producers of sperm (the small gamete) are called males, producers of the eggs (the large gamete) are called females. Any other characteristics that may often be associated with sex, such as parental care or sexual behavior, are not universal throughout the animal kingdom. During sexual reproduction the male gamete (sperm) may be placed inside the female’s body for internal fertilization, or the sperm and eggs may be released into the environment for external fertilization. Seahorses, like the one shown in Figure 43.1, provide an example of the latter. Following a mating dance, the female lays eggs in the male seahorse’s abdominal brood pouch where they are fertilized. The eggs hatch and the offspring develop in the pouch for several weeks.